Bobby Bronson-Tattoo Artist, working out of Beelistic Tattoo and Body Piercing.
Early this month I had the privilege of interviewing a local tattoo artist native to the west side. 26 year old Oak Hills Grad Bobby Bronson excelled early on in the Oak Hills Art programs and eventually was able to translate those talents into a career in Tattooing.
Here is what Bobby had to say.
What brought you to Tattooing, how long have you been doing it?
Well, a lot of factors brought me in. People have been telling me since I was a teenager I should be tattooing, but I always made a lot of excuses about why I couldn’t or shouldn’t.
A little over three years ago I quit doing electrical work. At that time I got offered a job at a tattoo shop doing counter work. Talking to customers, answering phones, and cleaning the shop.
While working there part time I got a job doing IT full time. I started really working on art while I had that job. In a regular 8 hour day I’d really only work for like an hour or 2 so it afforded me a lot of downtime. During this time I had to sit down and have a real conversation with myself about my future.
I always wanted to tattoo, as I said, but I made a lot of excuses as to why I couldn’t or shouldn’t. The apprenticeship is long and hard, the money is not guaranteed, and I had a lot of self-doubt as an artist.
So at that point I reached out to one of the artists I work with and let him know I was thinking about tattooing, he was super supportive and even offered to teach me.
After a long year and a half I finished my apprenticeship under Brendan Saddlemire at Beelistic tattoo that was June 15th of this year.
Dominic (Gazette): As you see it, does art, and tattooing go hand in hand, especially in the case of fine artist, cartoonist or painters, does it translate well?
That’s a bit of a tricky question; the answer is yes and no.
I believe having fine art skills and experience is a great thing. It can help you create thoughtful compositions and is an excellent way to flex your artistic muscles outside of tattooing.
As someone who paints and draws a lot, I think people expect me to say otherwise, but tattooing is a trade like any other. It’s a craft that has to be learned and mastered all on its own.
Many of the modes of application and theory that work in fine art do not work in tattooing. Tattooing is incredibly unique in terms of application, design structure and longevity.
If I draw a line on a piece of paper it will remain that line until I physically change it, that’s not so with tattooing. Human bodies are not a constant like a piece of paper or a canvas, and things tend to grow and change over time.
So when tattooing or even designing a tattoo you have to be extremely aware of the limitations of tattooing if you want to make a long lasting design on someone.
Overall however I do believe having outside artistic expression and experience is an overall good idea, even if the skills are not directly transferable. Simply doing the act of making art will consistently make you a better artist.
Dominic (Gazette): Are there parts of the body that you won’t tattoo, Face for instance?
I have not yet tattooed a face, but that isn’t because I won’t I just haven’t.
Many artists won’t tattoo certain parts ex. Face, neck, hands for social reasons. Other artists won’t tattoo locations they know have a tendency to not heal properly ex. Lips, sides of fingers, sides of feet.
I think as a tattooer I have a personal responsibility to help someone make an informed decision. If I do not think I can perform the tattoo to the best of my abilities due to location, I’ll talk that through with my client.
Often times having the dialogue and explaining to a client WHY most folks won’t tattoo those areas will change their mind about placement.
However at the end of the day if I’m taking walk ins and I feel like I’ve properly given the client all the information I have and they still want to tattoo their lips or their fingers, I’ll do my best to give them what they want in a way we can both be happy with it.
The only time I truly turn away clients is if I’m not sure I can do my best work on them. If they’re not flexible with design choice and say it’s: something extremely detailed and small, color realism, or like a portrait of a loved one, I have no issue recommending some of my fellow artists who are much more experienced and well versed in those styles. I have only been tattooing professionally for a short while after all.
I try to be honest with my capabilities before even starting the design. Recently someone wanted a color realistic peach tattooed on them, I showed them my work and they let me do it in a Japanese style. We both loved the outcome and I’m really proud of that tattoo.
That being said, personally location is rarely a determining factor for whether or not I’ll do the tattoo.
Dominic (Gazette): Is there an area on the body, and or any design that is the most popular, or recurring?
Tattooing like any other fashion or style goes through waves. When I first started doing counter work everyone was getting coordinates and arrows. It’s really whatever is trending on Pinterest are what people come in to get. This fashion of the week right now seems to be getting someone’s handwriting tattooed.
People make jokes a lot about “everyone” getting tribal arm bands or lower back tattoos, but you never really see those anymore. It seems like once the general clientele realizes everyone is getting it, they don’t want it anymore.
But even the classic bird silhouettes or infinity knots are pretty rare now. The most popular designs that people bring in over and over are fine line super minimalist designs.
As far as where on the body it seems to be a few areas are more popular. The ribs are super popular with young girls because it’s easy to hide. Many people choose the wrist/forearm because it’s easy to see.
Surprisingly not many people tattoo their upper arms or legs. When I first started getting tattooed those were some of the first places I got done, I suppose things are different now.
Most of that stuff has to do with the walk in clientele. I see a lot more of that stuff come in the door than I actually get to tattoo. I do some walk ins, but for the most part I’m really lucky that I stay busy doing custom work and appointments.
Dominic (Gazette): It was awesome talking to you Bobby, you have some real insight and I am happy you are the first selection for The Cheviot Gazette's Artist Spotlight.